Kurdistan Bloggers Union Interview with Jalal Talabani - Kurdistan Bloggers Union

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005 

Interview with Jalal Talabani

From the French newspaper Libération, by Christophe BOLTANSKI - April 13thl 2005. so Kurds could control if MamJalal says the same things to foreign press than to Iraqi :)...

C. B : A Kurd, President of Irak. An historical moment!

J.T : It marks a new era in the history of our country. For the first time, its leaders are chosen with democratic elections, which are not imposed by a coup. For me, as a Kurd, it means henceforth a complete equality between all the Iraqis. The Kurds are not any more second class citizens.

In Iraq, isn't the function of President only honorary?

J.T : Don't you believe it . The Kurdish block claimed one of the leader stations, the presidency of the State or the head of the government, and had designated me as its candidate. The President is guaranteeing the sovereignty of Iraq, he is the chief of the armies and has a right of inspection on the governmental action. He can put his veto at any decision which he considers unacceptable.

So you hope to play a key part during the debate on the Constitution.

JT : It will be written by a committee elected by the Parliament, assisted by experts and not elected sunni personalities. I can use of my right of veto and the Kurdish block has 77 deputies.. We will thus play a very important part in this process. The text will have then to be approved by referendum. By the law, three provinces (autonomous Kurdistan is composed of three provinces) will be able to reject it, in the majority of two thirds of the voices. It should have a consensus between Sunni Arabs , Shiites and Kurds. Without agreement, it will not be adopted.

During this debate, which will be your red lines?

J.T : We will oppose all that contains in germ a return to the dictatorship. We ask for a system federal, founded on democracy and equality. We also want that the provisional charter (established by the American ex-proconsul Paul Bremer and the transitory council of government, ) is the principal source to this Constitution.

The ayatollah Sistani, the godfather of the Shiite list, requires that, in the Constitution, Islam be recognized like the main source of the Law.

J.T : In the provisional charter, Islam is one of the sources of the legislation, not its principal source. We recognize the Moslem identity of the Iraqi people in the respect of the other confessions, Christian, Yazidi or Sabean. But we will not accept that Islam is the principal source of the Law. All the parts accepted besides that the principles contained in the provisional charter appear in the program of the new government.

Do you ever claim t Kirkuk and its oil fields in an autonomous Kurdistan?

J.T : This question will be examined when the situation becomes normal, in accordance with the article 58 of the provisional charte. We are agreed that its (Kurdish) inhabitants which were expelled by the Baasist regim come back initially to their home. Those which were installed by the dictatorship, within the framework of its policy of Arabisation, must come back in their areas of origin. Once this process completed, the local population will decide itself if it wants to depend on the Kurdish regional government or not.

By a referendum ?

J.T : yes, by a referendum or elections.

When will the departure of the foreign forces occur?

J.T: They must remain as long as our own forces will not be able to maintain safety and eradicate terrorism. When it is the case, we will ask them to leave. Without fixing time, I estimate that it will not happen before the end of 2006.

How to integrate the Sunnis, who were largely absent during the poll, with the political process?

J.T : They were dissuaded to take part in the elections under the terrorist threat. They pay also to the tactical errors of some their leaders. Now, the majority of them regret this boycott and want to participate to the next poll, in one year. In spite of their reduced number at the Parliament, we try to integrate them into the democratic process. They obtained a post of vice-president. We strive to reserve ministries for Sunnis and to include them in the constitutional debate.

In your speech of nomination, you evoked an amnesty for the terrorists.

J.T : Not for all of them. All the terrorists all are not included in the same category. Certain Iraqis believe that, through the so-called resistance, they can force the Americans to leave Iraq and understand now that it is not possible. We can facilitate their rehabilitation in the democratic play. But the criminals of Al-Qaeda or Zarqaoui, which carry out a war of extermination against the Shiites and the Kurds, must be annihilated.

Does your election as the President of Iraq mark the end of the Kurdish dream of independence, which is the dream of all your people?

J.T : Dream is one thing, reality another one. The Kurds voted in majority for our list, which asks a federation in the framework of Iraq and not independence. Like any other people, they want the right to self-determination. But, confronted with reality, they understand that it is not possible. Because even if our neighbors do not attack us they have only to close their borders, and independent Kurdistan could not survive.

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